Let me get this straight. You know her. She knows you. But she wants to eat him. And everybody’s okay with this? Did I miss something? -Timon The Lion King 1994
Is it just me? Before the “official” start of the season, the sport of cycling was on the brink of self destruction. The UCI threatened to kill the sport rather than give it to the Grand Tours. The Grand Tours decided that ethics ruled their actions. At least that’s what they said when they decided to exclude Unibet.com from their races. But in the last week, when the dust settles we will notice that nothing is settled.
ASO’s (Grand Tour organizer #1) Paris-Nice is taking place and is proceeding as it always has with the sprinters taking front and center. The RCS Sport (Grand Tour organizer #2) start of the season starts tomorrow with Tirreno-Adriatico. All the ProTour teams will be present save Unibet.com. That ethics thing again. But I thought it was a French law that precludes non French gambling advertisement. The fine print of that law said Predictor-Lotto was OK I guess. That’s OK, the Italians must be sympathetic with their French counterparts except their law must also make the exception for FDJeux.com riding on Italian soil. Still with me?
While everyone is smiling or gritting their teeth (I can’t tell), weird things are still out there. Operation Puerto is auditioning for the sequel to “Much ado About Nothing.” In it’s wake, 50 Spanish riders mostly from Continental teams are still unemployed. Ethics keep ProTour teams from hiring riders “implicated” in Operation Puerto. To me that means if you are Spanish and have no money, you are “implicated.” Kind of like when the FBI announces a name of a “person of interest.” This is code to the media for “We have nothing but feel free to ruin their life.”
And about this ethics thing. If Unibet.com was too hot to handle, why give their Giro wildcard spot to Tinkoff Credit Systems? Aren’t they the bad boys of cycling? Their rap sheets would make many a convict blush. And why let Ivan Basso start Tirreno-Adriatico? Isn’t he a person of interest? I mean implicated? Oh yea he is not Spanish and has money. Sorry I keep forgetting.
So what has changed? Riders are still a means to an end. The Grand Tours decide who rides based on ratings. If you are lucky to be on their good side you will do well. If not, prepare to be terminated. Everything is fair game. Operation Puerto never proved anything yet it was the club that ended many rider’s careers and livelihoods.
Forgive me if I am slightly sceptical of you sitting in judgement of riders like Floyd or what you will do with any evidence you may get your hands on from operation Puerto.